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The MMR-Autism Controversy: Did Autism Concerns Affect Vaccine Take Up?

Posted Jun 05 2012 5:50pm

A presentation will be made at the 4th Biennial Conference of the American Society of Health Economics June 10-13 in Minnesota, entitled: The MMR-Autism Controversy: Did Autism Concerns Affect Vaccine Take Up?. The study reviews data from the National Immunization Survey from 1995 through 2006.

According to Science Daily , the study will report:

Interestingly, in the aftermath of the controversy, Chang found that the higher a mother’s education level, the less likely a child was to receive an MMR vaccination. In other words, college-educated mothers were less likely to have their children vaccinated than were non-college education mothers. This may be due to the fact that more educated mothers have better access and/or more quickly absorb medical information available in the media.

The researcher found that the decline in vaccination rates began with the now-retracted 1998 Lancet paper by Andrew Wakefield , and that it has had impact on uptake rates for vaccines in addition to MMR:

She also found that the controversy, begun with the publication of research (later discredited) linking the MMR vaccine to risks for autism in “The Lancet” medical journal, seemingly had a spillover effect to other vaccines — such as polio or other measles-containing vaccines — likely as a result of concern for safety over the MMR controversy.

While this involves a lot of correlation discussion, I can’t help but point out another correlation: the same group that are less likely to receive MMR vaccination (children of mothers with higher education levels) are more likely to have been diagnosed with autism .

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